Jellicoe Road (Melina Marchetta) | Goodreads | 4 stars
This was one of my first books of the year, and it was a great way to kick things off. After the amazing-ness that was Saving Francesca and then its sequel, there was a lot to live up to, but I can still see why so many people have raved about this book.
I had the same problem with this book as I did with Marchetta’s previous books, though – I’m often quite confused at the beginning. We get thrown into the story without much explanation and have to learn along the way. This can be problematic for me because I have trouble really enjoying the story because I’m so busy trying to figure out exactly what’s going on and what the relationships between every is.
This wasn’t my favorite Marchetta book, but with a 4 star rating, I obviously still enjoyed myself and am looking forward to more books from her.
Asking for It (Kate Harding) | Goodreads | 4 stars
I’m so glad that I picked up this book. It wasn’t on my to-read shelf and it’s nonfiction, but as soon as I saw it on the library shelf, I had to check it out.
This was a tough read, but in the best way possible. There are so many sources and details to back up all the many important themes in this book. Rape culture encompasses so many different things, which can be very disheartening when reading about all the horrible things people can do, but we need to talk about these things. I wanted to shove this book in so many people’s faces, not because they’re bad people, but because no one seems to realize how deep rape culture goes and they (and I, I’m definitely not perfect) make plenty of mistakes since we all grew up in this rape culture.
This book made me so mad, but again, in the best way possible. I want to read more about this topic and tell everyone about it so that we can finally begin to make important changes.
99 Days (Katie Cotugno) | Goodreads | 3.5 stars
I feel like this book left me wanting more – for every interesting relationships and engaging scene, there was another relationship or moment that seemed like it needed more.
I’ll admit that this book shot up my to-read shelf when I learned that there was an interesting mother-daughter relationship where the mother wrote a book that revealed dark secrets from her daughter’s life. Then I learned that protagonist Molly is adopted and her mother is both single and an older parent, which made me even more excited – and then nothing really happened with their relationship! I just wanted to know so much more about their relationship and wanted to see it grow, but all we really got were some minor step forwards at the very end.
There was a lot of emphasis on Molly’s relationships with the brothers who got her into so much trouble before the book started. I was immediately a fan of Gabe, the brother she cheated with, so there was tons of baggage on their relationship from the very beginning of the book. Of course, she can really let go of Patrick and their long history, which led to way too much romantic drama. I just wanted Molly to grow as a person, but she spent too much time embroiled in romantic drama, and even though she recognized that, she couldn’t pull herself out of the drama and left me frustrated with her story.
There were plenty of things I liked about this book, but there were just too many instances where I was left wanting so much more. I hope that Cotugno can expand more on the interesting premises she comes up with in the future.
Luckiest Girl Alive (Jessica Knoll) | Goodreads | 2.5 stars
This book had so much potential, and I was fascinated by it most of the time, but a single element made this book nearly a deal breaker for me.
Much of the time, this book was a bit too crude for me, but Ani was such an interesting character to me, whether she was unlikeable or not. I related to her on multiple levels, even though we have very different backgrounds and experiences. Ani has gone through many horrible things in her past, one of which was pretty obvious from the beginning, but could trigger many people.
And there we come to the reason I couldn’t rate this book highly, no matter how interested I was in it throughout my reading: this book made me realize just how important trigger warnings are. THERE WILL BE SOME SPOILERS, ALTHOUGH I’LL TRY NOT TO REVEAL TOO MUCH Despite all the things we learn at the beginning of the book, it’s obvious that there might be some things still hidden from us as readers, and when we find out what it is, my opinion of the book immediately went down (although not through any fault of the book’s) – there’s a school shooting. As a future teacher, this is something that terrifies me and severely stresses me out, which isn’t great for someone who already has anxiety. If I had known this was coming, I could have avoided this book or at least been prepared.
I would still recommend this book, but I would definitely warn you that this book can trigger many, many ugly emotions, often with no warning in the actual book.
Isla and the Happily Ever After (Stephanie Perkins) | Goodreads | 3 stars
I tried reading this book earlier, but it didn’t work for me, so I put it down. I think things went better this time around, but it’s still clear that this wasn’t exactly the book for me.
This book is a romance – period. There are some other contemporary elements, like Isla trying to figure out what she wants to do post-college, but mostly, this book is all about the romance. The more I figure out my own sexuality, the more I struggle with characters who have such obviously different sexualities. Unfortunately, Isla and Josh seem to fall into that category – they get super-serious really quickly and both have huge crushes on each other. I’m the type of person who needs friendship and strong foundations first, so I had trouble supporting a relationship that started with so much obsession on both of their parts. Being stuck in Isla’s head can get overwhelming unless you’re in the mood for a romance-heavy book, and I just don’t think that that’s my thing. I wanted to see more of Isla’s relationships with other people, learn about school in France and Isla’s global life. Basically, I wanted a story that involved Isla and Josh, but wasn’t centered on them.
Lola and the Boy Next Door definitely remains my favorite of this romance-heavy trilogy. There was just too much romance for me, which obviously won’t be a problem for most people. I just couldn’t connect to Isla or Josh because I simply because I’ve never been a crush-heavy person. I’m definitely curious to see what Perkins can do when she writes stories that aren’t so romance-heavy.